Apr 27 2022

“Weed Man” Is Up for an Award!

Remember last August, when I told you what an honor it was to have a short story featured in Ellery Queen again? That story, “Weed Man,” is a finalist for an Award of Excellence from the Crime Writers of Canada! Yes, I am over the moon. If you’d like to read the story, you can buy the back issue from EQMM or subscribe to my newsletter (subscribers can read the story for free).

 


Apr 8 2022

Authors for Ukraine

Have you heard about the Authors for Ukraine auction? It’s the brainchild of novelist Amy Patricia Meade and it features more than 250 authors and a host of terrific prizes. All proceeds benefit CARE’s Ukraine Crisis Fund (more about that below). It’s open for bidding right now! (Bidding will end on Tuesday, April 12th at 11pm EDT.)  My prize pack features signed first editions of my standalone novels Her Last Breath (2021) and Blood Always Tells (2014). Please check it out — the auction is a chance to do something good in the world and get something good in return.

On a personal note, I’ve donated to Doctors Without Borders and International Rescue Committee in support of Ukraine. Until this auction came up, I wasn’t aware of the excellent work CARE is doing on the ground right now. Its Ukraine Crisis Fund strives to reach four million people with immediate aid and recovery, food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support, and cash assistance — prioritizing women and girls, families, and the elderly. Even if the auction doesn’t interest you, I hope you’ll check out the essential work CARE is doing.


Apr 5 2022

Death of a Bad Neighbour

Have you ever had an awful neighbor? I have, and they seem to be a universal scourge. That’s why I immediately said yes when British author, editor, and podcaster Jack Calverley asked me to write a short story for an anthology he was putting together. That collection, Death of a Bad Neighbour: Revenge Is Criminal, is out now, with stories from Steve Hockensmith, Dave Zeltserman, Robert Lopresti, Marilyn Todd, and many other terrific writers.

My own contribution is “King of the Castle.” Here’s an excerpt:

The snow came down hard that early December afternoon. At first it looked enchanted, with snowflakes swirling gracefully through the air before landing on the ledge of my home-office window. As they accumulated and covered the trees in my backyard all I could think about was how postcard-perfect my view was. I was busy editing a technical manual for a client who always called me with last-minute jobs. They paid handsomely but inevitably caused headaches. In spite of the looming deadline, every few minutes I lifted my eyes from the laptop and surveyed the glorious scene. It wasn’t until my wife, Kait, came home from work that I woke up to reality.

“Fletcher, honey, there’s almost a foot of snow out there,” she said. “And you haven’t started shoveling yet.”

It was our first snowfall in our first house. Kait and I had married three years earlier, in a summer ceremony at a manor house up in the Muskoka Lakes. While we’d continued to live in my tiny studio apartment in downtown Toronto, we’d sworn to each other we’d save every penny to buy our dream home. And we had, moving into a semi-detached three-bedroom house on the far eastern edge of Danforth Village, a short walk from restaurants, shops, and the subway. We’d been there for two months, painting and re-grouting and enjoying our new space.

One of our friends had given us a sturdy red snow shovel as a housewarming gift. Welcome to the wonderful world of homeownership, he’d told me. You’re your own superintendent now.

His words were ringing in my ears as I trudged to the garage out back—we didn’t own a car, so that was our storage space—and located the shovel. Kait was right; the snow was piled at least a foot deep.

At the front of the house, I took a deep breath and told myself I needed the workout. I’d canceled my gym membership—part of our belt-tightening scheme to afford a house—and had only started setting up a workout space in the basement. At least shoveling snow promised to be a full-body workout. I pumped myself up so much that I cleared not only our side of the house but the next door neighbour’s as well. He was an elderly man named Max Bode, and we had yet to meet him, though we’d caught glimpses of his short, bony frame. We considered ourselves lucky because we had yet to detect any noise from him through the wall that our houses shared.

After I finished and returned the shovel to the garage, I noticed the light was on inside Max Bode’s kitchen. Like ours, it was at the back of the house. I figured it was as good a time as any to introduce myself, so I headed up his steps. Our neighbour was sitting at a Formica table, his back turned to me as he hunched over a newspaper. Long strips of white hair were carefully combed over an otherwise bald pate.

I tapped on the glass of the storm door.

“Go ahead, Dick, it’s open,” he said without turning around.

Vaguely I wondered if Dick was one-half of the elderly couple who’d sold their house to Kait and me. It didn’t really matter. “Hello, there. It’s Fletcher Lemire,” I said, pushing the door open. “Your new neighbour. You’re Max Bode, right?”

“In the flesh. And I don’t care much for neighbours, new or old.” He turned in his seat and glared at me with dark, protruding eyes. Up close, he was younger than I’d thought—maybe only sixty or so—but his skin had an unhealthy pallor not unlike the paste we’d used to hang our new wallpaper. “What do you want?”

“You probably noticed it’s snowing,” I said, fighting the urge to call him sir. The neighbourhood had impressed me for its friendliness, and I was caught off guard by his brusqueness. “I was shoveling our steps and the sidewalk and figured I’d do your side, too.”

“I don’t need your help.”

“It’s already done,” I said. “It’s all cleared now.”

“Bully for you. If you think I’m giving you one red cent for that, you’re out of your mind.”

“I’m not looking for you to pay me.” I was incredulous. “I’m your neighbour.”

“Then what do you want?”

I shrugged. “I guess I figured you should know that you don’t have to clear the snow.”

His lipless mouth tugged back in a tight little smile. “I don’t have to do anything. This is my house. I make the rules. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t.”

“That sounds great, until the city gives you a ticket for not clearing your walk.”

He chuckled at that. “No one’s giving me a ticket. Bye now, Dick.”

“It’s Fletcher,” I said.

His lips grinned a little more broadly, as if I’d made a joke. “Of course it is. Millennials and their stupid names.”

Want to read more? Death of a Bad Neighbor is out now in hardcover, paperback, and on Kindle. I hope you’ll check it out!

 

 


Feb 25 2022

Agatha Christie’s Heirs

I couldn’t be more thrilled to be leading a virtual reading group at Brooklyn’s Center for Fiction! “Agatha Christie’s Heirs: Modern Mysteries Inspired by the Queen of Crime Fiction” will start on Thursday, March 10th, at 7pm EST. Here’s the course description:

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Agatha Christie in the world of mystery fiction. Between 1920 and 1976, Christie published some 75 novels, 165 short stories, and 16 plays—a body of work that continues to fascinate and delight readers around the world. Christie’s fiction—and her perennially popular detectives Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot—endure in part because her impeccably crafted mysteries are logical puzzles that are almost unsolvable, and yet can be worked out by the most attentive readers. (Christie always provides the necessary clues, albeit in a mass of red herrings.)

Christie’s work has inspired many modern crime writers, who have created their own captivating locked-room mysteries and unforgettable detectives. The contemporary writers this course focuses on bring varied perspectives to their books, exploring themes of class, race, and gender, broadening and deepening the appeal of their work. Some are set in international settings far from Christie’s English villages, but all will intrigue fans of her classic mysteries.

  • Session I (March 10): The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji
  • Session II (March 31): The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
  • Session III (April 21): Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  • Session IV (May 26): They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
  • Session V (June 23): The 7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I hope you’ll join me! (Since it’s virtual, you can join from anywhere.) Sign up now at www.centerforfiction.org.


Nov 17 2021

My Sisters in Crime Webinar: Bring Your Backlist Back to Life

2020 was a brutal year, but one good thing that came out of it, for me, was that I finally committed to bringing my first four novels back into print. I was nervous because it felt like a huge undertaking and I had minimal experience with self-publishing. But bringing those books out was a long-overdue labor of love, and I only wish I’ve done it sooner. Now those novels — The Damage Done, The Next One to Fall, Evil in All Its Disguises, and Blood Always Tells — are available as paperbacks and eBooks and I want to share how I did it.

I’ve created a webinar for Sisters in Crime to explain all of the things I wish I’d known at the outset and what I learned along the way. In it, I cover the basics of getting your book rights reverted, book design (cover, interior, and editing), distribution platforms (Ingram, Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble Press), and marketing. It’s free for my fellow SinC members, and there’s also a handout with plenty of resources. I hope it will be helpful to a lot of authors! To access, log on to Sisters in Crime and visit “Webinar Archives” — mine is under the “Business of Writing” section.


Nov 3 2021

Launch Day for One Small Sacrifice — in Polish!

There’s nothing more exciting than launch day for a book. It’s been a little over two years since ONE SMALL SACRIFICE was published by Thomas & Mercer…. but today, Muza will publish the Polish translation (the Polish title is a literal translation of the book’s original title). It’s an honor and a thrill, and I couldn’t be more delighted about the reception the book’s been getting from Polish-speaking reviewers (and Polish Bookstagram). My thanks to everyone involved in this project. Dziękuję Ci! 


Sep 1 2021

“Weed Man” in Ellery Queen

I grew up reading Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, so there’s no bigger thrill than appearing in its pages!

My story “Weed Man” is in EQMM’s 80th anniversary issue, on newsstands now. “Weed Man” is about a wealthy white marijuana entrepreneur who crosses paths with his former dealer, a Black veteran who was recently released from prison. Here’s how it begins:

“Hey, boss,” Pete said, poking his head into my office. “We got a little problem.”

“Don’t tell me we ran out again.” I toggled between spreadsheets on my computer. My latest venture, a retail shop called The High Life, was practically minting money, but inventory problems were killing me.

“We are running low, but that’s not it,” Pete said. He stepped into my office and lowered his voice. “There’s this guy. He won’t leave.”

I looked up. Pete was a nice enough kid, a blond surfer who reminded me of a golden lab my family had when I was a kid. He wasn’t any smarter than the dog. “What guy?”

“He’s talking to everybody, telling them he knows you.”

“Really?” I clicked save and shut the files. The last thing I needed was some clown stinking the place up. “He mention going to school with me?”

“No way. He’s too old.”

“Is he high? Or homeless?”

Pete shrugged. “I can’t tell.”

As I headed down the hallway behind the shop, Pete trotted behind me. The High Life was in Westwood, and a sizeable chunk of our clientele lived in the stately Art Deco apartment buildings and luxurious houses nearby. But we were a stone’s throw from UCLA, so we got all kinds of people.

I heard laughter even before I opened the door to the shop. I punched the code in and opened the door. It opened into a sunlit room painted a pale turquoise. There were glass display cases organized in a horseshoe shape around the room. But everyone’s attention seemed to be on a wizened Black man in the center of the room.

“I’m telling you, I taught Erik Tremayne everything he knows about weed,” he was saying. “Once sold him a bag of oregano and he told me it was the best weed he ever had. ‘Course, he was only sixteen then. What did he know?”

I froze in place, feeling like I’d stepped into a dream. He turned and grinned at me, flashing gold eyeteeth. “Hey, Erik!” he called. “It’s Willie the Weed Man. I got outta jail!”

EQMM is available on newsstands and by subscription; you can also buy a single issue online. I hope you’ll check it out!

Aug 24 2021

Mystery Scene Magazine

Look what arrived in the mail while I was away: the Fall 2021 issue of Mystery Scene magazine. The issue is chock-full of awesomeness, including a cover story on S.A. Cosby plus features on Ian Rankin, Ann Cleeves… and me! I couldn’t be more grateful to John B. Valeri for his terrific story that manages to capture a lot about how I think and how I write. On newsstands now!


Aug 17 2021

16,000 and Counting

Cover image of the novel HER LAST BREATHI was going to post something when Her Last Breath reached 13,000 customer reviews on Amazon. But it quickly started climbing to 14,000, and then I was away visiting family when it hit 15,000. I can’t keep up with my own book! I’m beyond grateful for all of the love it has received. My deepest thanks to everyone who has read the book and recommended it to others.

If you haven’t read Her Last Breath yet, I hope you’ll pick it up soon. Want a signed copy? The Poisoned Pen (in the US) and Ben McNally Books (in Canada) have you covered. Want a copy personalized? Contact Kew & Willow Books. For regular orders, check out Amazon, Angus & Robertson, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, Indiebound, Target, & Waterstones. If your local library doesn’t have the book yet, ask them to order it. And thanks for reading!


Jul 14 2021

Entertainment Weekly News!

This caught me by surprise. I love Wendy Walker, and when I asked her to take an early read of Her Last Breath (with an eye to blurbing it if she liked it), she graciously agreed. But I never imagined I’d see her recommending the book in the pages of Entertainment Weekly! From Wendy:

Her Last Breathsimply has it all. A page-turning plot, damaged, complex characters you can’t help but root for, and a truly twisty family saga woven throughout. I loved this one by master storyteller Hilary Davidson!

It’s impossible to wrap my elation into words, but I’m so very grateful.